Prospect Hot Sheet (April 29): Young Mets Shortstop Finds His Footing

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players have done from April 22-28. Remember, this feature simply recognizes what the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it's not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects.

Contributing: Ben Badler, J.J. Cooper, Matt Eddy and Vince Lara-Cinisomo


1. Amed Rosario, ss, Mets
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Team: high Class A St. Lucie (Florida State)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: .375/.407/.750 (9-for-24), 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: Rosario is a talented prospect, but when the Mets jumped the teenager to the Florida State League last year after he spent 2014 in the short-season New York-Penn League, the move proved to be too ambitious. He was able to tread water in 2015, but his modest performance didn't reflect his considerable upside. Back in the FSL for round two, Rosario is off to a terrific start. He already has three home runs after going without a homer the entire 2015 season. The minors are chock full of talented shortstops off to excellent starts, but Rosario's stock is certainly up as his game performance starts to break through. (BB)


2. Ozzie Albies, ss, Braves
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Team: Double-A Mississippi (Southern)
Age: 19.
Why He's Here: .429/.500/.714 (9-for- 21), 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Perhaps the 19-year-old Albies’ promotion to Double-A Mississippi wasn't aggressive enough. We're nearly one-fifth of the way through the season and he ranks among the Southern League leaders in batting average (.370), on-base percentage (.433) and total bases (42). So far this year, Albies has four hitless games. He has five games with three or more hits. The present is bleak in Atlanta, but the future, with Albies and others, is much more promising. (JJC)


3. Steven Brault, lhp, Pirates
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Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 11 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 20 SO, 5 BB

The Scoop: With Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon at the head of Indianapolis’ rotation, it’s easy to see why Brault wouldn’t get as much publicity. But he’s doing everything he can to get noticed. Acquired from the Orioles for Travis Snider along with fellow lefty Stephen Tarpley, Brault doesn’t have standout stuff. His fastball tops out at 92 mph but sits 89-91, and his curveball and changeup are average at best. But he pounds the zone, has outstanding command and holds baserunners. Through 20 innings, he has struck out 25 and walked just five. (VLC)


4. Brendan Rodgers, ss, Rockies
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Team: low Class A Asheville (South Atlantic)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .579/.619/.947 (11-for- 19), 8 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1-for- 1 SB

The Scoop: The third overall pick in the 2015 draft, Rodgers didn't have a great pro debut at Rookie-level Grand Junction, in part because he struggled to stay healthy. But that may soon become a distant memory, for Rodgers, the No. 1 draft prospect according to BA a year ago, has dominated the South Atlantic League. He hammered Braves righthander Touki Toussaint in their meeting this week, hitting a home run high off the scoreboard in left field and then roping a double down the line. Handling velocity hasn't been a problem for him, and he has hit safely in all but one of his 18 games this year. Rodgers’ power has truly impressed—he ranks among league leaders in home runs (five) and slugging percentage (.622). (JJC)


5. Hunter Renfroe, of, Padres
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Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: .391/.417/1.000 (9-for-23), 6 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The former Mississippi State star is the Padres’ No. 3 prospect behind two of the Red Sox they acquired for Craig Kimbrel, and he is perhaps the closest to helping the big club. Renfroe has prototype right fielder tools—strong arm, big power—and has learned to become more selective, thanks to the help of Double-A hitting coach Morgan Burkhart and roving instructor Luis Ortiz. (VLC)


6. Harrison Bader, of, Cardinals
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Team: Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .417/.533/.875 (10-for-24), 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Bader keyed the Gators’ run to the College World Series in 2015, and he kept hitting after he was drafted 100th overall by the Cardinals last year. He hit .311 with 11 homers in 61 games after turning pro, spending all but seven games at low Class A Peoria. This season, Bader is the 10th-youngest player in the Texas League after the Cardinals skipped him over high Class A. No problem. He is hitting .342/.398/.539 with four homers, thanks to a solid all-around approach. He works counts, draws walks and drives the ball as well. (VLC)


7. Josh Naylor, 1b, Marlins
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Team: low Class A Greensboro (South Atlantic)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .455/.538/1.45 (10-for-22), 5 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: When Naylor was in high school in Canada, he impressed scouts with his well above-average raw power, but there were concerns about his hefty build and whether he would make enough contact against better pitchers. So far in pro ball, Naylor has shown an aggressive approach but better bat control than some had expected, with a 19 percent strikeout rate this season. He still isn't the most mobile defender at first base, but as long as he can hit and hit for power, the Marlins will be happy with their first-round pick from last year's draft. (BB)


8. Andrew Benintendi, of, Red Sox
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Team: high Class A Salem (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .400/.464/.680 (10-for- 25), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: One still can find talent evaluators who are skeptical about Benintendi's future impact. As a shorter center fielder with a relatively slight frame, he looks more like Adam Eaton than Lorenzo Cain. But Benintendi, the reigning BA College Player of the Year, keeps producing, thanks to an excellent eye for the strike zone and some of the stronger hands, wrists and forearms in the minors. He only has one home run so far this year, but he's hitting .346 with 16 extra-base hits and just six strikeouts at Salem—so who’s complaining? (JJC)


9. Domingo Acevedo, rhp, Yankees
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Team: low Class A Charleston (South Atlantic)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.82, 2 GS, 11 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Acevedo is a towering human being at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds, and he drops a powerful fastball with that sits in the mid-90s with steep downhill plane. He can reach back for triple digits when he wants it, but perhaps the most impressive thing about him early in the season (and last year as well) is how easily he throws strikes. There's some effort to Acevedo’s mechanics, but for someone with such long levers, he has done a good job keeping his delivery together this year and being able to put the ball over the plate, with a stellar 32-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 innings to go with a 1.91 ERA. (BB)


10. Tyler Glasnow, rhp, Pirates
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Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: Glasnow has had one bad start sandwiched in between three very good ones, with his best outing of the season coming this week, when he struck out 11 of the 20 batters he faced. He has used his mid-90s fastball and knee-buckling curveball to strike out 30 of 82 batters faced this season—a 37 percent strikeout rate—with a 2.57 ERA and seven walks in 21 innings. There are some finer points of the game that Glasnow will continue to work on at Triple-A—holding runners has always been a weakness for the 6-foot-8 righthander—but whenever the Pirates want to call him up, he's talented enough to become a frontline starter before long. (BB)


11. Albert Almora, of, Cubs
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Team: Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .407/.429/.704 (11-for- 27), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1-for- 1 SB

The Scoop: This is the Almora whom scouts expected to see when the Cubs selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 draft. No one has ever questioned Almora’s defense, and he's always been tough to strike out. But with little pop and few walks, his offensive value had been tied to his batting average. This year his walk rate is up, his power has improved and he's still tough to strike out. It's too early to determine whether these improvements are permanent, but it's an encouraging sign for Almora. (JJC)


12. Bobby Bradley, 1b, Indians
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Team: high Class A Lynchburg (Carolina)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: .385/.407/.731 (10-for-26), 6 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: As a 19-year-old in the Carolina Leauge, Bradley is wise beyond his years in the batter's box. The lefthanded-hitting slugger has balance and strike-zone knowledge, but his calling card is plus power to all fields. He led the Rookie-level Arizona and low Class A Midwest leagues in both homers and RBIs in each of the past two seasons, and now he's vying to make it three in a row at Lynchburg. Bradley leads the Carolina League with 22 RBIs and ranks second to college-trained first baseman Ryan O'Hearn with five homers. (ME)


13. Ryan Cordell, of, Rangers
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Team: Double-A Frisco (Texas)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: .391/.400/.826 (9-for-23), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 SO

The Scoop: After experimenting at third base and shortstop last season, Cordell has appeared only in the outfield this season at Frisco, starting games at all three spots. While he may not have a carrying tool or be young for his level, he does many things well and has a high floor. Cordell ranks second in the Texas League batting (.361) and home run (five) races but leads the way with nine doubles, 21 RBIs and 18 runs scored. (ME)


14. Ian Happ, 2b, Cubs
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Team: high Class A Myrtle Beach (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .400/.550/.867 (6-for-15), 4 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: After scoring with first-round picks Kris Bryant (2013) and Kyle Schwarber (2014), the Cubs have hit on another college bat. Happ has terrific bat speed and combines aggressiveness with great selectivity. He has drawn 15 walks already this season against 20 strikeouts. His power had been to the gaps, but he has four homers already, showing more lift in his swing. The Cubs are giving him a long look at second base this spring, but he could wind up as a successor to Ben Zobrist as a multi-positional, switch-hitting, bat-first player. (VLC)


15. David Dahl, of, Rockies
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Team: Double-A Hartford (Eastern)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .417/.632/.917 (5-for-12), 4 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 6 BB, 1 SO, 3-for-4 SB

The Scoop: Dahl had an amazingly quick recovery last season from a splenectomy and has begun 2016 in powerful fashion. He has blasted seven homers already—halfway to his career best—and is showing improved plate awareness. Scouts projected the power would come, and it’s beginning to play this season. Dahl appears to have toned down the aggressiveness, and he could reach Triple-A Albuquerque at some point this season, barring any health issues. (VLC)


16. Josh Bell, 1b, Pirates
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Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 23
Why He's Here: .400/.471/.633 (12-for- 30), 4 R, 2 2B, 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: When the Pirates acquired John Jaso this offseason, he was supposed to be a first-base placeholder until Bell was ready to take over. Bell is living up to his end of the bargain. He is mashing at Triple-A, but he is not polished at first base, so there's no rush. It’s been a banner year in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are off to a great start—the big league club is 13-9—and Indianapolis is as prospect-laden as any Triple-A squad, with Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson leading the way. (JJC)


17. Jorge Bonifacio, of, Royals
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Team: Triple-A Omaha (Pacific Coast)
Age: 22
Why He's Here: .462/.462/.846 (12-for-26), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 0 BB, 6 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Bonifacio batted more than 1,200 times at Double-A Northwest Arkansas the past three seasons, and judging from his early performance at Triple-A Omaha, the extra repetitions helped. Last season, he adjusted his stance and hand position to add power, which he has tapped into in 2016 by hitting .346 with 10 extra-base hits in 20 games. (ME)


18. Mitch Keller, rhp, Pirates
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Team: low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: 1-1, 1.64, 11 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 15 SO, 1 BB, 1 HBP

The Scoop: A second-round pick out of high school in 2014, Keller didn't make a full-season team until this year. A strained forearm delayed his debut last season, and when he returned he ran up a 5.49 ERA with poor control in six starts at Rookie-level Bristol. Keller and his three-pitch mix appear back on track this season, for he has recorded a 0.86 ERA through four starts with a 28-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 12 hits allowed through 21 innings. (ME)


19. Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates
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Team: Triple-A Indianapolis (International)
Age: 24
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.69, 2 GS, 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: After two years on the sidelines, Taillon sure hasn't looked rusty. With a sparkling 23-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.54 ERA through 23 innings, he has shown a mixture of plus stuff and strike-throwing ability that should have him in Pittsburgh later this season. Taillon has worked off a 90-95 mph fastball that he's been able to throw for strikes and get hitters to chase when he elevates. Then he backs it up with a plus curveball, a big-breaking 12-to-6 pitch with a lot of depth. And if Francisco Pena woke up today with knee pain, we can understand, given how badly Taillon buckled him on this curveball Thursday. (BB)

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20. Julio Urias, lhp, Dodgers
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Team: Triple-A Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast)
Age: 19
Why He's Here: 1-0, 1.13, 2 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: While other talented 19-year-olds are getting started in low Class A, Urias is toying with Triple-A hitters. He has a 23-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings with a 2.50 ERA, using three plus pitches to flummox the opposition. His curveball generated some particularly ugly swings in his outing last night. Urias does it all from a silky-smooth delivery, with control and feel for pitching well beyond his years. The Dodgers are carefully monitoring Urias’ innings after he threw 80 last year and 88 in 2014, and he hasn’t exceeded five innings or 80 pitches yet this season. Urias could help the big league club immediately, but there isn't an obvious blueprint for a pitcher this young. (BB)


HELIUM WATCH

Pedro Payano, rhp, Rangers. Payano was part of the 2011 international haul that brought the Rangers current big leaguer starters Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, as well as No. 23 prospect lefthander Yohander Mendez and No. 29 prospect Ronald Guzman, the Double-A first baseman. It's easy to see why Payano would go unnoticed in that class, especially since he spent parts of four seasons in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the U.S. in 2015. Payano made quick work of the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2015 before advancing to low Class A Hickory. He opened 2016 back at Hickory and has gone 1-1, 0.38 through four starts. He leads the South Atlantic League in ERA and opponent average (.089) and ranks among the leaders in strikeouts (27).

On Wednesday, the New York-born righthander—who grew up in the Dominican Republic—struck out 11 in a complete-game one-hitter against Greensboro. He threw 70 of 99 pitches for strikes. So far this year, he has allowed just six hits in 22 innings. Payano has gained good weight, especially since coming to U.S., and has matured after encountering some off-field issues that slowed his American debut. He throws four pitches for strikes, leading with a fastball that can touch 94 mph if he needs it but sits 92-93. His changeup is his second-best offering, and it shows good diving action and fade. He throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. Payano also throws a curveball, and he's learning a cutter. Read more about Payano here. (VLC)

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